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Advanced Photocatalytic Materials for Environmental and Energy Applications

A special issue of Materials (ISSN 1996-1944). This special issue belongs to the section "Catalytic Materials".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2023) | Viewed by 16859

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Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Guangxi University, Nanning 530004, China
Interests: heterogeneous catalysis; photocatalytic water splitting; photocatalytic CO2 reduction
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou 225009, China
Interests: photocatalysis; CO2 conversion; hydrogen; electrocatalyst
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

With the development of modern society, environmental pollution and energy shortage have become the focus of world attention. A majority of the global energy supplies are generated from fossil fuel, which gives rise to environmental pollution and climate change. Photocatalysis technology, which can directly convert solar energy into high value-added fuel and chemical materials or degrade a wide range of organic pollutants into easily degradable intermediates or less toxic small molecular substances, is regarded as one of the most important ways to solve the global energy shortage and environmental pollution problem.

This Special Issue focuses on advanced photocatalytic materials, including but not limited to photocatalytic materials for water splitting, CO2 reduction, ammonia synthesis, H2O2 synthesis, pollutant degradation, organic synthesis, etc. We welcome colleagues worldwide who are working in the field of photocatalysis to publish papers in this Special Issue.

Dr. Tongming Su
Dr. Xingwang Zhu
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • photocatalysis
  • photocatalyst
  • water splitting
  • CO2 reduction
  • ammonia synthesis
  • H2O2 synthesis
  • pollutant degradation
  • organic synthesis
  • photovoltaic
  • new energy technology

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Editorial

Jump to: Research, Review

4 pages, 197 KiB  
Editorial
Advanced Photocatalytic Materials for Environmental and Energy Applications
by Tongming Su and Xingwang Zhu
Materials 2023, 16(22), 7197; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16227197 - 17 Nov 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 960
Abstract
With the development of modern society, environmental pollution and energy shortage have become the focus of worldwide attention [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

15 pages, 4025 KiB  
Article
Treatment of Mixture Pollutants with Combined Plasma Photocatalysis in Continuous Tubular Reactors with Atmospheric-Pressure Environment: Understanding Synergetic Effect Sources
by Lotfi Khezami and Aymen Amin Assadi
Materials 2023, 16(21), 6857; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16216857 - 25 Oct 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 786
Abstract
This study investigates the pilot-scale combination of nonthermal plasma and photocatalysis for removing Toluene and dimethyl sulfur (DMDS), examining the influence of plasma energy and initial pollutant concentration on the performance and by-product formation in both pure compounds and mixtures. The results indicate [...] Read more.
This study investigates the pilot-scale combination of nonthermal plasma and photocatalysis for removing Toluene and dimethyl sulfur (DMDS), examining the influence of plasma energy and initial pollutant concentration on the performance and by-product formation in both pure compounds and mixtures. The results indicate a consistent 15% synergy effect, improving Toluene conversion rates compared to single systems. Ozone reduction and enhanced CO2 selectivity were observed when combining plasma and photocatalysis. This process effectively treats pollutant mixtures, even those containing sulfur compounds. Furthermore, tests confirm nonthermal plasma’s in-situ regeneration of the photocatalytic surface, providing a constant synergy effect. Full article
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15 pages, 10779 KiB  
Article
Phosphorus-Doped Hollow Tubular g-C3N4 for Enhanced Photocatalytic CO2 Reduction
by Manying Sun, Chuanwei Zhu, Su Wei, Liuyun Chen, Hongbing Ji, Tongming Su and Zuzeng Qin
Materials 2023, 16(20), 6665; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16206665 - 12 Oct 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1113
Abstract
Photocatalytic CO2 reduction is a tactic for solving the environmental pollution caused by greenhouse gases. Herein, NH4H2PO4 was added as a phosphorus source in the process of the hydrothermal treatment of melamine for the first time, and [...] Read more.
Photocatalytic CO2 reduction is a tactic for solving the environmental pollution caused by greenhouse gases. Herein, NH4H2PO4 was added as a phosphorus source in the process of the hydrothermal treatment of melamine for the first time, and phosphorus-doped hollow tubular g-C3N4 (x-P-HCN) was fabricated and used for photocatalytic CO2 reduction. Here, 1.0-P-HCN exhibited the largest CO production rate of 9.00 μmol·g−1·h−1, which was 10.22 times higher than that of bulk g-C3N4. After doping with phosphorus, the light absorption range, the CO2 adsorption capacity, and the specific surface area of the 1.0-P-HCN sample were greatly improved. In addition, the separation of photogenerated electron–hole pairs was enhanced. Furthermore, the phosphorus-doped g-C3N4 effectively activated the CO2 adsorbed on the surface of phosphorus-doped g-C3N4 photocatalysts, which greatly enhanced the CO production rate of photocatalytic CO2 reduction over that of g-C3N4. Full article
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12 pages, 4335 KiB  
Article
TiO2 Nanotubes Decorated with Mo2C for Enhanced Photoelectrochemical Water-Splitting Properties
by Siti Nurul Falaein Moridon, Khuzaimah Arifin, Mohamad Azuwa Mohamed, Lorna Jeffery Minggu, Rozan Mohamad Yunus and Mohammad B. Kassim
Materials 2023, 16(18), 6261; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16186261 - 18 Sep 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 986
Abstract
The presence of Ti3+ in the structure of TiO2 nanotube arrays (NTs) has been shown to enhance the photoelectrochemical (PEC) water-splitting performance of these NTs, leading to improved results compared to pristine anatase TiO2 NTs. To further improve the properties [...] Read more.
The presence of Ti3+ in the structure of TiO2 nanotube arrays (NTs) has been shown to enhance the photoelectrochemical (PEC) water-splitting performance of these NTs, leading to improved results compared to pristine anatase TiO2 NTs. To further improve the properties related to PEC performance, we successfully produced TiO2 NTs using a two-step electrochemical anodization technique, followed by annealing at a temperature of 450 °C. Subsequently, Mo2C was decorated onto the NTs by dip coating them with precursors at varying concentrations and times. The presence of anatase TiO2 and Ti3O5 phases within the TiO2 NTs was confirmed through X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis. The TiO2 NTs that were decorated with Mo2C demonstrated a photocurrent density of approximately 1.4 mA cm−2, a value that is approximately five times greater than the photocurrent density exhibited by the bare TiO2 NTs, which was approximately 0.21 mA cm−2. The observed increase in photocurrent density can be ascribed to the incorporation of Mo2C as a cocatalyst, which significantly enhances the photocatalytic characteristics of the TiO2 NTs. The successful deposition of Mo2C onto the TiO2 NTs was further corroborated by the characterization techniques utilized. The utilization of field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) allowed for the observation of Mo2C particles on the surface of TiO2 NTs. To validate the composition and optical characteristics of the decorated NTs, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and UV absorbance analysis were performed. This study introduces a potentially effective method for developing efficient photoelectrodes based on TiO2 for environmentally sustainable hydrogen production through the use of photoelectrochemical water-splitting devices. The utilization of Mo2C as a cocatalyst on TiO2 NTs presents opportunities for the advancement of effective and environmentally friendly photoelectrochemical (PEC) systems. Full article
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13 pages, 6081 KiB  
Article
Theoretical and Experimental Study of the Photocatalytic Properties of ZnO Semiconductor Nanoparticles Synthesized by Prosopis laevigata
by Mizael Luque Morales, Priscy Alfredo Luque Morales, Manuel de Jesús Chinchillas Chinchillas, Víctor Manuel Orozco Carmona, Claudia Mariana Gómez Gutiérrez, Alfredo Rafael Vilchis Nestor and Rubén César Villarreal Sánchez
Materials 2023, 16(18), 6169; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16186169 - 12 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 839
Abstract
In this work, the photocatalytic activity of nanoparticles (NPs) of zinc oxide synthetized by Prosopis laevigata as a stabilizing agent was evaluated in the degradation of methylene blue (MB) dye under UV radiation. The theoretical study of the photocatalytic degradation process was carried [...] Read more.
In this work, the photocatalytic activity of nanoparticles (NPs) of zinc oxide synthetized by Prosopis laevigata as a stabilizing agent was evaluated in the degradation of methylene blue (MB) dye under UV radiation. The theoretical study of the photocatalytic degradation process was carried out by a Langmuir–Hinshelwood–Hougen–Watson (LHHW) model. Zinc oxide nanoparticles were synthesized by varying the concentration of natural extract of Prosopis laevigata from 1, 2, and 4% (weight/volume), identifying the samples as ZnO_PL1%, ZnO_PL2%, and ZnO_PL4%, respectively. The characterization of the nanoparticles was carried out by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), where the absorption band for the Zn-O vibration at 400 cm−1 was presented; by ultraviolet–visible spectroscopy (UV–vis) the value of the band gap was calculated, resulting in 2.80, 2.74 and 2.63 eV for the samples ZnO_PL1%, ZnO_PL2%, and ZnO_PL4%, respectively; XRD analysis indicated that the nanoparticles have a hexagonal zincite crystal structure with an average crystal size of 55, 50, and 49 in the sample ZnO_PL1%, ZnO_PL2%, and ZnO_PL4%, respectively. The morphology observed by TEM showed that the nanoparticles had a hemispherical shape, and the ZnO_PL4% sample presented sizes ranging between 29 and 45 nm. The photocatalytic study showed a total degradation of the MB in 150, 120, and 60 min for the samples ZnO_PL1%, ZnO_PL2%, and ZnO_PL4%, respectively. Also, the model explains the experimental observation of the first-order kinetic model in the limit of low concentrations of dye, indicating the influence of the mass transfer processes. Full article
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18 pages, 10869 KiB  
Article
The Superiority of TiO2 Supported on Nickel Foam over Ni-Doped TiO2 in the Photothermal Decomposition of Acetaldehyde
by Beata Tryba, Piotr Miądlicki, Piotr Rychtowski, Maciej Trzeciak and Rafał Jan Wróbel
Materials 2023, 16(15), 5241; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16155241 - 26 Jul 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1136
Abstract
Acetaldehyde decomposition was performed under heating at a temperature range of 25–125 °C and UV irradiation on TiO2 doped by metallic Ni powder and TiO2 supported on nickel foam. The process was carried out in a high-temperature reaction chamber, “The Praying [...] Read more.
Acetaldehyde decomposition was performed under heating at a temperature range of 25–125 °C and UV irradiation on TiO2 doped by metallic Ni powder and TiO2 supported on nickel foam. The process was carried out in a high-temperature reaction chamber, “The Praying MantisTM”, with simultaneous in situ FTIR measurements and UV irradiation. Ni powder was added to TiO2 in the quantity of 0.5 to 5.0 wt%. The photothermal measurements of acetaldehyde decomposition indicated that the highest yield of acetaldehyde conversion on TiO2 and UV irradiation was obtained at 75 °C. The doping of nickel to TiO2 did not increase its photocatalytic activity. Contrary to that, the application of nickel foam as a support for TiO2 appeared to be highly advantageous because it increased the decomposition of acetaldehyde from 31 to 52% at 25 °C, and then to 85% at 100 °C in comparison with TiO2 itself. At the same time, the mineralization of acetaldehyde to CO2 doubled in the presence of nickel foam. However, oxidized nickel foam used as support for TiO2 was detrimental. Most likely, different mechanisms of electron transfer between Ni–TiO2 and NiO-TiO2 occurred. The application of nickel foam greatly enhanced the separation of free carriers in TiO2. As a consequence, high yields from the photocatalytic reactions were obtained. Full article
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16 pages, 9825 KiB  
Article
Hydrothermal Synthesis of MoS2/SnS2 Photocatalysts with Heterogeneous Structures Enhances Photocatalytic Activity
by Guansheng Ma, Zhigang Pan, Yunfei Liu, Yinong Lu and Yaqiu Tao
Materials 2023, 16(12), 4436; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16124436 - 16 Jun 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1596
Abstract
The use of solar photocatalysts to degrade organic pollutants is not only the most promising and efficient strategy to solve pollution problems today but also helps to alleviate the energy crisis. In this work, MoS2/SnS2 heterogeneous structure catalysts were prepared [...] Read more.
The use of solar photocatalysts to degrade organic pollutants is not only the most promising and efficient strategy to solve pollution problems today but also helps to alleviate the energy crisis. In this work, MoS2/SnS2 heterogeneous structure catalysts were prepared by a facile hydrothermal method, and the microstructures and morphologies of these catalysts were investigated using XRD, SEM, TEM, BET, XPS and EIS. Eventually, the optimal synthesis conditions of the catalysts were obtained as 180 °C for 14 h, with the molar ratio of molybdenum to tin atoms being 2:1 and the acidity and alkalinity of the solution adjusted by hydrochloric acid. TEM images of the composite catalysts synthesized under these conditions clearly show that the lamellar SnS2 grows on the surface of MoS2 at a smaller size; high-resolution TEM images show lattice stripe distances of 0.68 nm and 0.30 nm for the (002) plane of MoS2 and the (100) plane of SnS2, respectively. Thus, in terms of microstructure, it is confirmed that the MoS2 and SnS2 in the composite catalyst form a tight heterogeneous structure. The degradation efficiency of the best composite catalyst for methylene blue (MB) was 83.0%, which was 8.3 times higher than that of pure MoS2 and 16.6 times higher than that of pure SnS2. After four cycles, the degradation efficiency of the catalyst was 74.7%, indicating a relatively stable catalytic performance. The increase in activity could be attributed to the improved visible light absorption, the increase in active sites introduced at the exposed edges of MoS2 nanoparticles and the construction of heterojunctions opening up photogenerated carrier transfer pathways and effective charge separation and transfer. This unique heterostructure photocatalyst not only has excellent photocatalytic performance but also has good cycling stability, which provides a simple, convenient and low-cost method for the photocatalytic degradation of organic pollutants. Full article
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11 pages, 6180 KiB  
Article
Highly Efficient and Exceptionally Durable Photooxidation Properties on Co3O4/g-C3N4 Surfaces
by Yelin Dai, Ziyi Feng, Kang Zhong, Jianfeng Tian, Guanyu Wu, Qing Liu, Zhaolong Wang, Yingjie Hua, Jinyuan Liu, Hui Xu and Xingwang Zhu
Materials 2023, 16(10), 3879; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16103879 - 22 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1130
Abstract
Water pollution is a significant social issue that endangers human health. The technology for the photocatalytic degradation of organic pollutants in water can directly utilize solar energy and has a promising future. A novel Co3O4/g-C3N4 type-II [...] Read more.
Water pollution is a significant social issue that endangers human health. The technology for the photocatalytic degradation of organic pollutants in water can directly utilize solar energy and has a promising future. A novel Co3O4/g-C3N4 type-II heterojunction material was prepared by hydrothermal and calcination strategies and used for the economical photocatalytic degradation of rhodamine B (RhB) in water. Benefitting the development of type-II heterojunction structure, the separation and transfer of photogenerated electrons and holes in 5% Co3O4/g-C3N4 photocatalyst was accelerated, leading to a degradation rate 5.8 times higher than that of pure g-C3N4. The radical capturing experiments and ESR spectra indicated that the main active species are •O2 and h+. This work will provide possible routes for exploring catalysts with potential for photocatalytic applications. Full article
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9 pages, 1789 KiB  
Article
Efficiency Improvement of Industrial Silicon Solar Cells by the POCl3 Diffusion Process
by Xiaodong Xu, Wangping Wu and Qinqin Wang
Materials 2023, 16(5), 1824; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16051824 - 23 Feb 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1883
Abstract
To improve the efficiency of polycrystalline silicon solar cells, process optimization is a key technology in the photovoltaic industry. Despite the efficiency of this technique to be reproducible, economic, and simple, it presents a major inconvenience to have a heavily doped region near [...] Read more.
To improve the efficiency of polycrystalline silicon solar cells, process optimization is a key technology in the photovoltaic industry. Despite the efficiency of this technique to be reproducible, economic, and simple, it presents a major inconvenience to have a heavily doped region near the surface which induces a high minority carrier recombination. To limit this effect, an optimization of diffused phosphorous profiles is required. A “low-high-low” temperature step of the POCl3 diffusion process was developed to improve the efficiency of industrial-type polycrystalline silicon solar cells. The low surface concentration of phosphorus doping of 4.54 × 1020 atoms/cm3 and junction depth of 0.31 μm at a dopant concentration of N = 1017 atoms/cm3 were obtained. The open-circuit voltage and fill factor of solar cells increased up to 1 mV and 0.30%, compared with the online low-temperature diffusion process, respectively. The efficiency of solar cells and the power of PV cells were increased by 0.1% and 1 W, respectively. This POCl3 diffusion process effectively improved the overall efficiency of industrial-type polycrystalline silicon solar cells in this solar field. Full article
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13 pages, 2416 KiB  
Article
Carbon Quantum Dots Accelerating Surface Charge Transfer of 3D PbBiO2I Microspheres with Enhanced Broad Spectrum Photocatalytic Activity—Development and Mechanism Insight
by Ruyu Yan, Xinyi Liu, Haijie Zhang, Meng Ye, Zhenxing Wang, Jianjian Yi, Binxian Gu and Qingsong Hu
Materials 2023, 16(3), 1111; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16031111 - 27 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1991
Abstract
The development of a highly efficient, visible-light responsive catalyst for environment purification has been a long-standing exploit, with obstacles to overcome, including inefficient capture of near-infrared photons, undesirable recombination of photo-generated carriers, and insufficient accessible reaction sites. Hence, novel carbon quantum dots (CQDs) [...] Read more.
The development of a highly efficient, visible-light responsive catalyst for environment purification has been a long-standing exploit, with obstacles to overcome, including inefficient capture of near-infrared photons, undesirable recombination of photo-generated carriers, and insufficient accessible reaction sites. Hence, novel carbon quantum dots (CQDs) modified PbBiO2I photocatalyst were synthesized for the first time through an in-situ ionic liquid-induced method. The bridging function of 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium iodide ([Bmim]I) guarantees the even dispersion of CQDs around PbBiO2I surface, for synchronically overcoming the above drawbacks and markedly promoting the degradation efficiency of organic contaminants: (i) CQDs decoration harness solar photons in the near-infrared region; (ii) particular delocalized conjugated construction of CQDs strength via the utilization of photo-induced carriers; (iii) π–π interactions increase the contact between catalyst and organic molecules. Benefiting from these distinguished features, the optimized CQDs/PbBiO2I nanocomposite displays significantly enhanced photocatalytic performance towards the elimination of rhodamine B and ciprofloxacin under visible/near-infrared light irradiation. The spin-trapping ESR analysis demonstrates that CQDs modification can boost the concentration of reactive oxygen species (O2•−). Combined with radicals trapping tests, valence-band spectra, and Mott–Schottky results, a possible photocatalytic mechanism is proposed. This work establishes a significant milestone in constructing CQDs-modified, bismuth-based catalysts for solar energy conversion applications. Full article
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Review

Jump to: Editorial, Research

17 pages, 4429 KiB  
Review
Recent Advances in Phase-Engineered Photocatalysts: Classification and Diversified Applications
by Jianjian Yi, Guoxiang Zhang, Yunzhe Wang, Wanyue Qian and Xiaozhi Wang
Materials 2023, 16(11), 3980; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16113980 - 26 May 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1216
Abstract
Phase engineering is an emerging strategy for tuning the electronic states and catalytic functions of nanomaterials. Great interest has recently been captured by phase-engineered photocatalysts, including the unconventional phase, amorphous phase, and heterophase. Phase engineering of photocatalytic materials (including semiconductors and cocatalysts) can [...] Read more.
Phase engineering is an emerging strategy for tuning the electronic states and catalytic functions of nanomaterials. Great interest has recently been captured by phase-engineered photocatalysts, including the unconventional phase, amorphous phase, and heterophase. Phase engineering of photocatalytic materials (including semiconductors and cocatalysts) can effectively affect the light absorption range, charge separation efficiency, or surface redox reactivity, resulting in different catalytic behavior. The applications for phase-engineered photocatalysts are widely reported, for example, hydrogen evolution, oxygen evolution, CO2 reduction, and organic pollutant removal. This review will firstly provide a critical insight into the classification of phase engineering for photocatalysis. Then, the state-of-the-art development of phase engineering toward photocatalytic reactions will be presented, focusing on the synthesis and characterization methodologies for unique phase structure and the correlation between phase structure and photocatalytic performance. Finally, personal understanding of the current opportunities and challenges of phase engineering for photocatalysis will also be provided. Full article
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22 pages, 1860 KiB  
Review
An Overview of Recent Developments in Improving the Photocatalytic Activity of TiO2-Based Materials for the Treatment of Indoor Air and Bacterial Inactivation
by Achraf Amir Assadi, Oussama Baaloudj, Lotfi Khezami, Naoufel Ben Hamadi, Lotfi Mouni, Aymen Amine Assadi and Achraf Ghorbal
Materials 2023, 16(6), 2246; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16062246 - 10 Mar 2023
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1790
Abstract
Indoor air quality has become a significant public health concern. The low cost and high efficiency of photocatalytic technology make it a natural choice for achieving deep air purification. Photocatalysis procedures have been widely investigated for environmental remediation, particularly for air treatment. Several [...] Read more.
Indoor air quality has become a significant public health concern. The low cost and high efficiency of photocatalytic technology make it a natural choice for achieving deep air purification. Photocatalysis procedures have been widely investigated for environmental remediation, particularly for air treatment. Several semiconductors, such as TiO2, have been used for photocatalytic purposes as catalysts, and they have earned a lot of interest in the last few years owing to their outstanding features. In this context, this review has collected and discussed recent studies on advances in improving the photocatalytic activity of TiO2-based materials for indoor air treatment and bacterial inactivation. In addition, it has elucidated the properties of some widely used TiO2-based catalysts and their advantages in the photocatalytic process as well as improved photocatalytic activity using doping and heterojunction techniques. Current publications about various combined catalysts have been summarized and reviewed to emphasize the significance of combining catalysts to increase air treatment efficiency. Besides, this paper summarized works that used these catalysts to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and microorganisms. Moreover, the reaction mechanism has been described and summarized based on literature to comprehend further pollutant elimination and microorganism inactivation using photocatalysis. This review concludes with a general opinion and an outlook on potential future research topics, including viral disinfection and other hazardous gases. Full article
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